In “Iron Man 3,” Sir Ben Kingsley plays the Mandarin, a megalomaniac who calmly delivers philosophical speeches as parts of the world go up in flames. While Kinglsey is no stranger to playing villains, the actor told MTV News that he worked especially hard to get inside both the character’s political beliefs and his terrifyingly dispassionate presentation of them.
“He’s a shadow — he’s a shadow threat, isn’t he?” Kingsley asked rhetorically. “I’m always fascinated by documentary footage from now way back into the 20th century. And [I was] watching these people conduct their broadcasts with such authority.”
“Iron Man 3″ finds billionaire industrialist Tony Stark struggling to come to terms with his experiences in “The Avengers,” where he not only fought aliens, but also survived a near-death experience. The Mandarin, who has lurked in the background since the earliest days of Iron Man’s existence, finally comes into full power, threatening to destroy the world as he interrupts television broadcasts to deliver his chilling speeches about the West’s decadence and corruption.
Kingsley spoke to MTV at the film’s recent Los Angeles press day. The esteemed thespian insisted that it was fatal for an actor to judge his character, saying it was instead necessary to fully embrace all of his thoughts and beliefs, no matter how troubling he might find them.
“[They have] such calmness, and such belief in their own wretched belief system, and it’s that calm belief center that I have to have, or create as an actor,” Kingsley said. “I can’t judge the character. I have to try and inhabit that bizarre belief system.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Iron Man 3,” opening in theaters nationwide May 3.